Senator Carona's Email Update
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EMAIL UPDATE

June 27, 2011

On May 30th, the Legislature adjourned "Sine Die," or "without a day." Although this pronouncement usually signals the end of a Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, before it was made, the members of the Legislature had been told by Governor Perry that he would call a special session the very next day. Under the Texas Constitution, special sessions last for 30 days, the governor controls the agenda and may call an unlimited number of special sessions and they are numbered (this special session is the First Called Session).

Going into the Regular Session in January, Texas was faced with a current services budget that could not be funded with projected revenue. To better understand the budget situation, you can review my March Email Update. The only bill required to pass each session is the two-year state budget. The state budget, HB 1, was passed in the final days of the Regular Session and has been signed into law by Governor Perry. The Legislature crafted the 2012-13 budget using both program cuts and non-tax revenue measures. However, the non-tax revenue that funds part of the budget was found in another bill, SB 1811, along with other critical school finance legislation. Because of a filibuster in the Senate in the final hours of the Regular Session, SB 1811 failed to pass. With the budget contingent on the passage of items in SB 1811, the Governor called the Legislature immediately back into session. SB 1811 was re-filed as SB 1 in the First Called Session. SB 1 has now passed both the House and Senate and is being negotiated by an appointed Conference Committee.

Governor Perry has since decided to add several items to the agenda of the First Called Session, including legislation to address the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency, education issues, Congressional redistricting, sanctuary cities, healthcare reform, and intrusive pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Since the agenda has grown and several items are still pending, this update will focus on the items that did or did not pass during the Regular Session and my next update will focus on the budget and items considered during the First Called Session.

Business and Commerce

As Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, I'm including extra emphasis on bills in this subject area.

Passed:

Failed:

Public Education

Passed:

Failed:

Higher Education

Passed:

Health and Human Services

Passed:

Failed:

Natural Resources

Passed:

Failed:

Family Issues/Jurisprudence

Passed:

Failed:

Transportation & Homeland Security

Passed:

Failed:

Criminal Justice

Passed:

Failed:

State Affairs

Passed:

Failed:

Redistricting

The Legislature is responsible for producing four of the state's required redistricting plans -- the plan for the Texas State Board of Education districts, the plan for the U.S. Congressional districts in Texas, the plan for the Texas House of Representatives and the plan for the Texas Senate. During the Regular Session, the Legislature fulfilled its responsibility regarding three of the four plans and passed plans for the State Board of Education (HB 600 by Solomons), the Texas Senate (SB 31 by Seliger) and the Texas House of Representatives (HB 150 by Solomons). No Congressional plan passed during the regular session, but the Legislature did pass a Congressional redistricting plan (SB 4 by Seliger) during the First Called Session. Assuming the plans are not vetoed by the Governor, they will become effective as the new district plans for the next election. Of course, any redistricting plan can be challenged in court, and in all likelihood some of these plans will be. However, the Legislature worked hard to ensure that the plans can withstand any potential legal challenge.

Of interest to us in District 16 are the changes to our district lines. As I have mentioned before, District 16's population grew by the least amount in the state. Therefore, to meet the equal population requirement, the population in District 16 had to increase by more than any other district in the state. Please review my January 2010 Email Update for more information on redistricting requirements. As a result, District 16 has been expanded in all directions. The District expanded south to include parts of Uptown, west to include parts of Irving and Coppell, north to include parts of Carrollton and Farmer's Branch, and east to include a greater portion of Garland. Unfortunately, to accommodate surrounding Senate districts, Richardson is no longer a part of District 16 nor is a portion of east Dallas near White Rock Lake and Mesquite. I have enjoyed tremendously representing all the constituents in these areas and will miss their participation and input concerning issues of importance in Senate District 16. However, they will be well represented by the Senators in their new Districts, and I look forward to learning more about the new areas of District 16.

To view the new Senate District Map, visit the Texas Redistricting Website, from "Applications and Tools" select "DistrictViewer." From "Select Plan" choose "Base Plans." Then select "Plan Type" and choose "Senate," then select PLANS148. Then use your mouse to zoom in on the map. If you have any questions about navigating DistrictViewer, please call my Dallas office at 214-378-5751.

Constitutional Amendments on the November 8, 2011 Ballot

Here are the joint resolutions that have resulted in 10 proposed Constitutional Amendments that will be on your ballot this November. The hyperlinks with take you to the "History" page of the resolution. If you click on the "Text" tab, you can view the bill text, fiscal notes, and analysis of the bill intent.

HJR 63 (Pickett) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county on property in the area.
HJR 109 (Orr) - Proposing a constitutional amendment to clarify references to the permanent school fund, to allow the General Land Office to distribute revenue derived from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund, and to provide for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.
SJR 4 (Hinojosa) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board.
SJR 9 (West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.
SJR 14 (Van de Putte) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.
SJR 16 (Estes) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.
SJR 26 (West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.
SJR 28 (Rodriquez) - Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the provision of parks and recreational facilities by conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso County.
SJR 37 (Van de Putte) - Proposing a constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.
SJR 50 (West) - Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the state to finance educational loans to students.

Conclusion

This issue of the Email Update was intended to highlight major legislation that passed or failed during the Regular Session of the 82nd Texas Legislature, but it is not all encompassing. If you are interested in a bill/issue not mentioned here, please ask.

Summer is here, be safe and stay cool.

Sincerely,

John Carona
State Senator - District 16
http://www.carona.senate.state.tx.us/

Capitol Office District Offices
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, TX 78711
512-463-0116
800-662-0334
512-463-3135 (fax)
john.carona@senate.state.tx.us
8080 N. Central Expy.
Suite 1440, LB 44
Dallas, TX 75206
214-378-5751
214-378-5739 (fax)
5401 N. Central Expy.
Suite 300
Dallas, TX 75205
214-521-3884
214-953-1886 (fax)

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